Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, "Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow." (Wiley, March 2008) He publishes the monthly "Hightower Lowdown," co-edited by Phillip Frazer.
Hightower writes: "When a big industry goes to Congress with a fat legislative package that it claims is necessary to "modernize" the industry, duck, because they're shooting at you. In the case of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, they were shooting at both your wallet ... and your democracy."
Hightower writes: "And now here's your friendly U.S. Defense Department with another screwy idea! The Pentagon -- home of the infamous $600 toilet seats -- is at it again, buying everyday stuff at exorbitant prices. Take your common set screws, which any 'Harry's Hardware' store will sell to you for 57 cents each. But a new report finds that our military procurement geniuses have been paying corporate contractors $75 each for the same screw."
Hightower writes, "It used to be that our oranges, carrots and whatnot just set there quietly in our fridge. No more, though. Now, various pieces of produce are likely to have a little sticker on them, proclaiming a brand name. These logo stickers got Brian Fox, an advertising executive, envisioning everything from A to Z -- apples to zucchini -- in an entirely different light: not as edibles, but as ad space."
Hightower writes, "Some Scots and some Texans have teamed up to produce 100-percent, pure-cotton bathroom tissue, sold under the name of 'Cotton Fluff.' Do we really need this? Yes we do. The average person flushes an entire tree down the toilet every year in the form of toilet paper. So instead of just sitting there feeling guilty about being an accomplice to tree slaughter, you can literally take matters into your own hands by reaching for the zero tree-cutting option of cotton."
Hightower writes, "It's so good to know that Congress and the White House have finally cut 'Welfare Moms' off the federal dole. Two years and you're out! Hey -- get a job you Moochers! Where? Uh, well, you know, somewhere. Don't bother us with details."
An American corporate front, made up of known names like IBM and Boeing, is launching a national ad campaign to buff-up China's image as human rights violators, and using its lobbying clout in Washington to give products made in China privileged access to our market -- permanently.
Combining equal doses of mad science, corporate greed, and government acquiescence, Calgene Incorporated patented, produced, and began marketing a Brave New Tomato last year -- a tomato genetically engineered to resist rotting. But "The Thing from Calgene" just couldn't cut it with us consumers, who're naturally wary of putting a big, thick slice of genetic manipulation on our children's BLTs.
"Headed by former CPA and non-criminal Gary Zeune, Pros & Cons specializes in providing speakers to conventions of accountants, giving talks on how they stole from clients. Hubbell says, 'It's kind of like an alcoholic talking about what happened to them when they started drinking.'"
"The March issue of Consumer Reports analyzed the pesticides on and in 27,000 samples of produce taken right out of supermarket bins. A startling number of them contained unacceptable levels of toxic chemicals."
Hightower writes: "There it is again. That big, wet, smooching sound you hear every time big business gets together with big government... In their latest scheme, government scientists and corporate profiteers have teamed up to mess up one of nature's basics: seeds."
Hightower writes: "I apologize in advance for using technical jargon, but have you sniffed any 'perchloroethylene' today? You have if you've had a suit, a blouse or other clothing dry cleaned, because perc, as it's known in the business, is the solvent used by nearly all of America's 27,000 dry-cleaners. Unfortunately, dry cleaning itself is not clean at all, since perc is highly-toxic, capable of causing central nervous system damage, reproductive disorders, miscarriages, kidney and brain damage and several kinds of cancer."
Hightower writes: "[The 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act] was rammed through Congress by lobbyists for the media giants, phone companies and cable operators. Among other things, the act deregulated cable TV companies, which promised us at the time that de-reg would spur competition and lower our monthly bills ... Two years later, instead of competition we've gotten a wave of megamergers that have reduced competition, and our monthly bills have gone up, not down."
Hightower writes, "There never has been a warm spot in the hearts of Americans for bankers. But these days, that normal chill has become an icy deep freeze, as local banks have become tentacles of powerful, national, corporatized bureaucracies seemingly intent on squeezing every last dime they can out of us customers."
Hightower writes, "For the young workers in Vietnam, Disney is a nightmare, a company far more abusive than the wicked old step-sisters who kept Cinderella in bondage. In Vietnamese sweatshops, hundreds of young women who are only 17, 18, 19-years-old, spend their youth making little giveaway toys that are based on cute characters from Disney movies. These little toys are part of the 'Happy Meals' that McDonald's fast-food restaurants sell."
Hightower writes, "Every work day, according to a report in "The New York Times," an average of two dozen Americans are crushed, blown-up, asphyxiated, gored, electrocuted, buried alive, or otherwise unpleasantly and prematurely terminated. With more than 6,000 such deaths a year, ours is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work. These are deaths that happen in a flash, and their families often never learn why -- 'wrong place, wrong time' is all the explanation they get."
Hightower on government subsidized training programs for low wage workers: "These training grants are nothing but corporate welfare, subsidizing companies by creating a huge pool of highly-skilled, low-wage workers. "
Overall, since 1990, average pay of working folks has barely kept up with inflation. But corporate profits are up by an average of 75 percent. Hightower exposes a few of the chief executives that have fired the most workers in the last year -- and who have profited from it.
Looking at the money of major contenders for the presidency this year, Jim Hightower declares 1996 to be "time to auction off the White House." Actually it's just one more year of big money influence. Bill Clinton, for instance: won the financial backing of NationsBank in '92 -- after he agreed to support legislation that would put more than $50-million a year in the bank's vaults. Clinton delivered, and within days of his signing the bill, NationsBank delivered a sweetheart loan of $3.5 million to Clinton's Democratic Party."
"When Edgar Rosen bought a Sunbeam Grillmaster home, he found that he was the one getting grilled. At the risk of losing his warranty, Rosen was required to fill out a foot-long questionnaire, demanding he reveal his income, marital status, what credit cards the Rosen household uses, whether anyone there smokes cigars, wears contact lenses, or is a veteran."
"Scientists have patented a process of splicing a flounder gene into the growth-hormone gene of the Salmon, causing the resulting fish to grow twice as fast and more than twice as large as normal. This would seem to be a bonanza for fish farmers -- double the fish in half the time. But it's not nice to try to fool Mother Nature, and the scientists' genetically engineered supersalmon comes with a devastating flaw... "
Joseph W. Luter III, boss hog at the nation's biggest pork producer, is buying out his competitors, squeezing out the family farmers who raise hogs, and contaminating the air and water for miles around.
Posted on: Mar 31, 2000, Source: Hightower Lowdown
There's a crime wave underway in America, but the Powers That Be are getting sore necks from looking the other way. When it comes to robbing us blind, the Armani-clad criminals in corporate boardrooms have it over the hoods on the street. While burglary and robbery cost U.S. taxpayers $3.8 billion annually, securities traders alone cream four times that amount from their clients in fraudulent deals every year -- and securities fraud is small potatoes.
"Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into an alien universe where animals abound ... yet they're really not animals. For example, a dog barks, wags its tail, and even fetches its bone -- yet it's not a dog at all. Instead, it's a computerized creature, a microchip mutt that is riding the latest wave of toy technology: virtual pets."
"A group of Republican attorneys general have devised a sneaky way to take secret campaign contributions from tobacco companies, high-tech firms, gun makers, and other giant corporations, promising not to file big lawsuits against them."
Posted on: Mar 31, 2000, Source: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.
"There are laws in our country that proclaim to human criminals 'three strikes and you're out' -- why not for corporations? Each year, hundreds of doctors, lawyers and other professionals have their licenses permanently revoked -- why not corporations? People who murder are removed from society -- why not corporations?" A fiery selection from Jim Hightower's new book, "If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates."
"There's a bunch of cranks out there suffering from a raw case of 'class envy.' No, I'm not talking about your ordinary working stiffs. Instead, this is a case of Executive Class Envy -- multi-millionaires who are becoming more and more envious of the growing crop of youngish mega-billionaires in our society."
"More and more cranky rich folks are literally lifting themselves above us riff-raff in the slow lanes of life by buying personal helicopters to take them to and fro their suburban enclaves. Of course, it's pricey, but what's money good for if you can't look down at the rabble below?"
"Three years ago John Deutch -- head honcho of the CIA -- transferred some 200 of America's secret documents onto computers that he had in his home. But was Deutch prosecuted for reckless endangerment of our secrets, as any other agent would have been? Hardly."
"We've learned in recent years that privacy is passŽ in practically every aspect of our lives as corporate and governmental snoops track our movements at work, in schools, walking down the street, browsing on the Internet ... and now, even while we eat."
"Here's a sorrow-filled story from the New York Times about the personal side of downsizing. It's about the emotional trauma suffered by those who get caught up in the blizzard of pink slips in today's harsh, corporate climate. Only, the Times story is not about the people getting pink slips ... but about the sad plight of bosses who hand them out."